USA Badminton leader’s 5-year ban upheld for interfering in reporting of sex-abuse case

DENVER (AP) — An arbitrator upheld the five-year suspension of USA Badminton’s CEO for interfering in the reporting of misconduct in a long-running case about a coach accused of sexually abusing a teenager nearly a decade before the episode was reported.

The Associated Press obtained a letter sent by the U.S. Center for SafeSport last week notifying the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and USA Badminton of the decision regarding Linda French.

The letter quoted the arbitrator’s decision, saying “French is at the highest level of responsibility, and must be held to the highest standards.”

“Using one’s position to discourage reporting, or to retaliate against an individual for reporting, as have been found here, shakes the foundation of the Code,” the decision read.

French did not immediately return an email sent by the AP seeking comment.

USA Badminton reached a $1 million settlement last year with former chief of staff Alistair Casey, who contended he was fired for going against the wishes of French and other leaders by filing a complaint about the abuse allegations to SafeSport.

The case in 2021 stemmed from a then-nine-year-old allegation about a coach who was accused of having sex with a teenage player. The debate at USA Badminton was whether to report to the center or go to police. USA Badminton’s general counsel at the time was a longstanding critic of the center.

Casey took the case to the center against his superiors’ wishes and later got fired “due to required cuts in USAB’s operating budget for the upcoming years,” according to an email he received informing him of his termination.

The arbitrators agreed with the center’s initial ruling this January, which found that Casey’s firing in November 2021 was a form of retaliation.

Also in January, the center suspended former USA Badminton chair Ken Wong for two years, but arbitrators overturned that penalty, ruling he had no hiring or firing authority and couldn’t have overturned French’s decision to fire Casey.

The AP also obtained a copy of a letter the center sent to members of Congress detailing the case.

“Ms. French’s request represents a clear and unabashed effort to delay a Center investigation into possible child sexual abuse by a USAB affiliated coach,” the letter read.


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